Though they live in London, Steffi and Toby chose to tie the knot in a summer wedding in Sweden, at the bride’s parents’ home. And once you see these photos from their celebration, you’ll understand why – what a gorgeous, relaxed place for a wedding! We especially love that the guests arrived on a tour boat, friends of the couple performed all of the music, and the tent was decorated with tons of leafy branches. If you’re looking for inspiration for a sweet summer wedding your guests will love, look no further!
“We live in East London but decided to get married in my family’s home in Sweden,” says Steffi. “The house is on an island outside of Vaxholm in the Stockholm Archipelago that looks out over the sea. It’s an absolutely stunning place and somewhere that means the world to my family. Toby and I have spent many lazy summer holidays there.”
Steffi wore a vintage Reiss dress that she purchased on eBay for just £50. “I had it altered by my friend Natalie who is a costume designer,” says the bride. “I had my fittings backstage at London’s Royal Opera House amongst piles of tutus and robes, which felt pretty special!”
What was the best advice you received as a bride? It’s just one day!
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Really think about what you want and what is important to you, rather than what is expected or conventional. It’s okay to question the traditions and how they really fit in or reflect your lives.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? We were so wrapped up in the planning and anticipation that we didn’t really think about the photography side very much, not least because I am much more used to being behind the camera than in front of it! Luckily our fantastic photographers, Nina and Wes, knew exactly what to do and really held our hands throughout the process as our gorgeous photos prove. If I was doing it again, though, I might have asked to do a few goofy photos, maybe even just with sun glasses on or something, but I didn’t really think of it at the time!
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? Just how impressed we were that so many people traveled up to Stockholm from all over the world to be there with us – especially all our friends in London!
“Our guests arrived by old fashioned steamer boat from Stockholm, which gave them a tour of the archipelago. There was a traditional fika (Swedish for the act of sitting down with coffee and something sweet) on board with cinnamon buns.”
“Getting married in Sweden meant that we could have a service outdoors, in our back garden, as the person who marries you comes with the license (not the case in the UK). We felt really lucky to be able to do this as it felt like there was nowhere more poignant that getting married on our back porch, surrounded by all our loved ones, drinks in hand. I also loved the idea of it being super casual, that I could just get ready, walk down the stairs and out into the garden and get married to my favorite person.”
Your ceremony in three words. Joyful, Informal, Short.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? We each wrote a letter to our officiant about each other and our relationship, which gave her something to use in her introduction. We knew we wanted some friends to sing and another friend (who actually introduced us to each other) to read a short poem. Our main focus was to keep it as relaxed as possible, we didn’t feel the need for the formality and gravitas of a lot of the weddings we’ve been to as we find that quite alienating and rather stiff. We wanted everyone to have a glass of fizz in their hands to make it feel fun, a real celebration. The ceremony also lasted all of about 10-15 minutes (after all, people were standing) – we don’t feel that long, drawn-out ceremonies are necessarily more meaningful, so we kept it short and sweet. It was perfect – a bit different, but very special.
Who officiated your ceremony? Estrid Landmark, a local registrar. We got in touch with a few in the area and picked her because she was the only one who was available in the summer (a time when lots of people are on holiday in Sweden). She put us at ease, was kind and seemed to genuinely love what she does.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? None whatsoever. We had a completely blank slate to do whatever we wanted, which was great.
What was your ceremony music? As we got married on our back porch, there was no aisle or processing; we sort of just rocked up and got married – as I say, it was very casual! A group of very good friends of ours with lovely voices formed a mini choir and performed two songs. We gave them completely free reign to decide what they wanted to do and joked that they could even do an ABBA medley if they wanted (what with us all being in Sweden!). They learnt a traditional Swedish hymn (despite not speaking any Swedish!) and did, in fact, sing ABBA’s “I do, I do, I do” which made everyone chuckle.
What were your ceremony readings? A poem called ‘Being Boring’ by Wendy Cope which is about being happy to settle down and be as dull as possible as long as it is with the person you love.
What were your vows like? We had the standard Swedish vows, the long version (wich is only about 10 seconds longer than the short version). They are legally required but we really liked them as the words describe marriage as a partnership between two individuals who find strength in one another in their everyday lives. The words are perhaps a bit practical and unsentimental (perhaps a bit Swedish in that way!), but for us, having been together a long time and through a great deal, the words perfectly summed up our feelings about marriage.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? How informal and joyful it felt and looking out to see everyone’s grinning faces.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? There was plenty of laughter. Toby even cracked a joke mid-vow by pretending he hadn’t understood the Swedish (though everyone knows he has been taking lessons for years), which had everyone in hysterics. // We also had a large basket of toy instruments for everyone to ‘make some noise’ with when the ceremony ended – Toby is a musician and many of our friends sing or play instruments so they were all over that!
“Our reception was casual, leafy and nautical! We had the tent set up right by the water so everyone could wander around, laze about on the jetty with their drinks and canapes. In Stockholm during the summer, the sun doesn’t set until very late and the weather was gorgeous so we were able to stay outside during the whole reception. Even our band and dance floor was outdoors! We even brought some of the outdoors into the marquee with very green and leafy decor.”
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? We really started by thinking about what our ideal party would look like and went from there. We decided early on that we wanted the wedding to feel as relaxed as possible and for everyone to have the best time. The island location was also pretty inspiring – we let the surroundings do most of the talking!
What was your wedding menu? The food was particularly important to me, as a food stylist, but again we wanted a relaxed feel. So we skipped the starter and instead had lots of nibbles and canapés (many with a Swedish theme so a fair bit of herring!), which meant that everyone could walk around the garden and relax on the jetty. We had a BBQ themed main course with a choice of beef, chicken or salmon and lots of vegetable sides (including delicious Swedish new potatoes and asparagus) and sauces out on the table for everyone to help themselves.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? Dessert was a pavlova with lots of Swedish summer berries including blackcurrant sorbet, wild strawberry mousse and raspberries. I knew there would be an expectation for me (as a trained chef) to make a cake, but as neither of us love wedding cakes, we decided to avoid this by skipping it all together. Instead we stacked up some cheeses from the local cheese maker on the island next door, served with my homemade chutneys and chili jam. We also made traditional English biscuits to reflect Toby’s heritage (chocolate bourbons, custard creams, jammy dodgers and party rings) to have with tea and coffee. Favors were traditional Swedish pick and mix candy for guests to help themselves to.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? We did lots ourselves, and luckily we also had an army of friends and family to help, from aspects of the food (chutneys, gin, biscuits, cordial) to the decor. We did the calligraphy ourselves – it was messy and imperfect and that was fine! We made fans for guests to cool down with and table runners from burlap, painted all of the menus and signs ourselves using blackboard paint, cut massive branches and potted herbs to decorate the tent with – it was all really lush, green and beautiful!
Did you have a signature cocktail? For the ceremony we had a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand with elderflower cordial made from the tree in our garden. We also had Dark and Stormy cocktails and, as another nod to all the Brits, a cucumber gin and tonic, made with my homemade cucumber gin. Oh, and we also hung mini Swedish snaps bottles from a tree with some scissors for guest to cut down and enjoy
as a nightcap!
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? I loved the toasts! We had them dotted throughout the dinner which is typical in Sweden but also made things feel a bit more relaxed. They were all so thoughtful and funny. I also really loved that we had as many women speaking as men, which felt really important to me – at English weddings normally only men speak! Our wonderful band, made up of friends and Toby’s bandmates, were also amazing – they really managed to get everyone on the dance floor! I also really loved that everyone seemed to be relaxing and enjoying themselves so much – some of our guests even went for a dip in the sea!
What was your first dance song? Our friends who are all in different bands formed our wedding band. Our first dance song was “Martha” by Tom Waits sung by our friend, Jim (Toby sang the first dance song at Jim’s wedding so he was returning the favor). After that, Toby and I got up on stage and joined the band by singing the chorus to “Do You Love Me” by the Contours – a bit of a surprise to our guests as we hadn’t told anyone we were going to be singing (apart from the band, of course)!